McCONNELL, Russell Merlin
May 15, 1932 – November 12, 2019
Russ passed away at Royal University Hospital at the age 87 years. He is lovingly remembered by his wife of 65 years, Isabel; children Garry (Liana), Robert (Lorraine), Doug and Gwen (Garry) Manovich; grandchildren Erin, Ashley, Andrew (Amy), Mark (Aimee), Megan, Kyle, Ryan, Joseph, Shayleigh; great-grandchildren Brynn and Madailein; dear friends Jack Koshey and Lorraine Toews; in-laws Marge (Don), Grace and Richard (Joan); many nieces and nephews; as well as numerous family pets. Russell was predeceased by his mother Jennie McConnell (nee Rensby) and his father Norman Westly, stepmother Lila McConnell; sisters Verna, Donna; brothers Allan, Stanley, Bobby, Edward, Murray; and stepsister Lillian as well as numerous in-laws and friends close to him.
Russ was born in Humboldt, SK. As a young boy he and his brothers were put to work early, delivering papers for the Star Phoenix and Globe & Mail. His dad, he and his brothers delivered water and ice with a dray. In later years, he helped his father with the family business, McConnell & Sons Building Movers, moving grain elevators, homes and other large buildings. At age 18 he pursued his dream job and was hired by CN Rail.
In 1954 at the age of 22, he married the love of his life Isabel Steeg. In Humboldt, they had their firstborn daughter, Gwen. At that time, Russ worked in the Humboldt and Saskatoon rail yards. When he could no longer hold work in either location, the family moved to Melville, SK. where he continued working for CN Rail as an Engineer. In later years, he transferred to Via Rail as an engineer. In Melville, Russell and Isabel completed their family having 3 boys, Garry, Robert and Doug.
Russ took pride in his accomplishments with the railway and trained many young men to become engineers. In order to provide for their growing family, he also worked at Bonick’s Garage, Abel’s Cartage, Pirie’s Pharmacy and the Melville Legion. Russ was extremely involved in the community. In the mid-60’s, he was the trainer and eventually president of the Jr. Melville Millionaire’s Hockey Club. He coached minor hockey, baseball, and assisted in developing Pirie Field. He volunteered on many boards and was instrumental in establishing the Melville Regional Park, Melville Railway Museum, including the locomotive and caboose. Russ also sat on the board of Transport 2000.
Just prior to his retirement he started Ace Bicycle. He sold Norco and Sekine bikes and also did repairs. After his retirement in 1990, he and Isabel moved to Penticton, BC. His love of volunteering did not end. In Penticton, he joined the Diabetic Association as a volunteer and eventually became Regional President. After a bout with prostate cancer, he volunteered at the Canadian Cancer Society. Starting as volunteer, he eventually worked in the office to assist others in coordinating volunteer activities. In 2012 due to health reasons, they moved to Saskatoon to be closer to family and resided in Parkville Manor. They had many family gatherings there, including a 60th and 65th wedding anniversaries. They made many good friends at Parkville.
The family would like to thank Dr. Aaron Friggstad, staff of Parkville Manor, staff at RUH (special thanks to nurse Jaime), Pastor Ron Bestvator, Dr. Stakiw and the Palliative Care Community workers, as well as Connie with the Alzheimer’s Society as well as Mourning Glory Funeral Services.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to KidSport Saskatchewan, “Close to Home Campaign”– St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation or to the Alzheimer’s Society. A Celebration of Russ’ Life was to be held at Windsor Chapel (704 Windsor St.) in Saskatoon. However, due to pandemic precautions we have had to postpone it. We are still hoping to celebrate his life with family and friends when it is safe. Arrangements in care of Mourning Glory Funeral Services (306) 978-5200.
It’s hard to believe you.ve been gone a year! We’re all glad that we had the time to share. Share birthdays. Anniversaries. Grandchildren. Great grandchildren and Holiday celebrations together. There is no way to explain all you have been.
A son. A brother. A friend. A co-worker. A husband, a father, grandfather! And the list goes on. One who worked hard to provide for his wife and four children. Taking on not one but four other part-time jobs and serving in the community whenever he could. Yet, he still had time to tie my skates when I couldn’t. To walk about one cold November evening and explain the constellations for a Brownie project, help with fencing, painting, yardwork or watching the little ones.
There is far too much to put down on paper. Instead those moments will live on forever in our hearts. You taught us all the best of your best. Love, selflessness, compassion, gratitude, work ethic, strength of character and empathy for others.
He spent many enjoyable times with grandchildren and great grandchildren. Passing on his love to them and wisdom of his years. Your life was not without struggle, especially your last few years. That beautiful smile that you projected when you broke through the veil of dementia lives on. We all knew who you really were! The world has changed greatly since your bright Light has left us to carry on your journey. You asked me, in those final days, to “promise we’ll all be together again!” The answer remains YES! We all love you now to eternity! As
Dad would say “Never say goodbye, just say so long, until we meet again.”
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